Thursday, January 31, 2013

Solid

Mo was SO ready for solid food.  He tried yams on Sunday and since then has eaten bananas and avocado too.  The guidelines on introducing solids have changed since Max was six months.  They now say you can introduce new foods fairly quickly and don't really have to avoid anything other than honey in the first year.  Mo loves eating. Yesterday, he ate a whole avocado in one sitting and he is still nursing like a champ. 

 

This baby is too much fun!!!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Another Taboo Topic

There are a lot of people in my life who are parents and grandparents to babies who are either approaching nine months or who are there right now.  I can't help but wonder if they ever stop and pause to think about Maxie....and not in the abstract way that most people think about Maxie (like a symbol on a t-shirt or a picture on a blog).  I wonder if they realize that the baby that they have given their hearts over to is the same age as the one we lost.  I wonder if it ever crosses their mind, knowing what they know now - that a baby this age is the center of their universe - that THIS is what is missing for us.  That THIS is what we lost.  One of those people told me soon after Max died, with a confused look on their face, as if not quite sure why I cried and cried and cried, "But, you can have more children"....as if Max himself was not what I was missing, but rather "just a baby".  As if his life was not what was important, but rather what was important is that I have a reason to cheer up.  A nine month old is a person - a complete love of your life.  I wonder if that person who told me that ever stops to think, while playing with the beautiful nine month old in their lives, that this baby could not be replaced.  I am pretty sure that particular person doesn't ever take pause to think about us.  I know I shouldn't say it.  I guess I am not even supposed to think it.  But I do.  A baby is a delight.  A baby will light up your heart whenever you look in their direction.  For a baby to die, will turn your heart to ash and your existence into hell.  A nine month old should be nothing other than pure joy.  I want nothing other than for all of those babies to continue to be the center of their parents and grandparents lives.  But, I still wonder if they ever really think about our Max.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My new/old hobby

Lately I have gotten really into something that I never thought I would enjoy doing again - cooking.  After we lost Maxie, I couldn't cook at all.  Making a meal was too sad for me - everything tasted bland anyway - and if it didn't, I kind of hoped it would.  I had always loved cooking - for myself, for dinner guests, for family.  I have never been a really awesome cook, but I have always really enjoyed it.  I loved cooking up Maxie's baby food and making dinner for Ted and I while the baby played.  I loved the simple domesticity of being a mom and wife.  It gave me lots of joy.  It was something I had waited for many years to have. 

After I lost Max, I didn't want to shop for food...I didn't want to cook it.  Thank goodness for my friend Kate, who organized a food train for us, and for all of our wonderful friends who signed up to bring us dinner twice a week for six months!  SIX MONTHS!  It's truly unbelievable how amazing that is.  There were a few friends who kept bringing food - some that still do!  If you ever want to know what you can do for a grieving family - bring food!  They have to eat whether they want to or not and they do not have enough energy to think about where the next meal is going to come from.  I would think this would be especially important for families with remaining children.  Being able to serve a home cooked dinner to your family when you are grieving would be a tremendous burden lifted.  Even ordering in is exhausting for some reason.  It's all just too much. 

I'm not sure when the cooking switch got turned back on, but at some point along my journey, it has become a comfort to me.  It is something that I feel like I have some control over (in my otherwise chaotic feeling world).  It is a way I can try to make my husband feel loved and appreciated.  It calms me down and demands that my focus be on measuring and cutting and timing.  I am really into finding new recipes and making something different every night.  I am trying to keep everything pretty low maintenance and low fat.  Today I am slow cooking an African peanut chicken dish with sweet potatoes and cabbage that smells AMAZING.  Last night I made Moroccan chicken with raisins, carrots and couscous.  

Teddy's sister is a chef (she runs the test kitchen at Cuisinart) and his mom used to be a caterer.  They are WONDERFUL cooks.  Everything they make is delicious.  I can't even really aspire to come close but I am having fun playing with recipes and having new dinners to look forward to every night.  I've always enjoyed cooking but recently it has become like a new hobby again.  I am taking mental note of the recipes that are most kid friendly and looking forward to being the kind of mom that serves food that my children love.  I am looking forward to being a mom to children who grow up and eat the food that I cook because they are big and healthy and happy.  Cooking these days represents my future - something I had all but given up on - something for which I feel very, very grateful today.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Gifts

I write this post with a heavy heart, because there should be no gifts in losing someone you love....but there are.  They are not obvious gifts and they take a while to find.  If I put all of these gifts together, they do not come close to making up for losing Max....they are nowhere equal to the one gift that his life was.  But, there are small "gifts" that I cannot ignore, as much as I'd mostly like to:

- There is the "gift" of knowing human kindness. The "gift" of knowing the true nature of the people surrounding you.  The "gift" of learning to know many of them for the beautiful souls that they truly are....that you always knew that they were.  Seeing people you've always loved on a deeper level and having an insight into the compassion of their hearts.  It is a gift.
 - The flip side of this "gift" is learning that not everyone is so compassionate and kind.  Or that some people are more worried about their own comfort than they are in being a comfort.  But, if you really think about that - it is also sort of a gift - having insight into the true nature of the people around you, even when it isn't pretty, IS actually a gift.
- There is the "gift" of deepened spirituality...a desire to connect to the universe and all of it's miracles and magic.  - A separation from the materialistic world that sucks us in daily.  It doesn't matter what your beliefs are - there is no denying that our planet, our solar system, our universe, and life itself - in all forms - is a complete and wondrous miracle.
- For me, there has been the gift of a new job - a new opportunity - the gift of being able to work from home and be with my second baby while he plays and naps and grows.
- There is the gift of being able to raise money for things that are close to our hearts through Maxie's Forest and Maxie's First Candle Fund.  Doing good in Maxie's name is something that we will do for the rest of our lives.  It keeps us connected to him.  It helps us to continue parenting him.
- There is the gift of deepened compassion, as well as a heightened sense of knowing that we cannot take ANYTHING for granted -especially each other, Mo and those who we love most.  Life can change (or end) in an instant.  We must live as fully as possible in the present.

There is not one gift that I wouldn't trade to have Max here with me - to love and kiss and cuddle with.  Not one.  But, that is not my reality.  The reality is that while most of the time I am angry and sad and disgruntled about losing Maxie - I cannot deny that in the last year and a half there have been "gifts"....and we have learned so much about love and life from Max's death.  He continues to enrich my life, even in his absence.  What a special, special boy.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Behind the scenes and other shots

Here is a little footage and some other shots from Mo's six month birthday shoot.  
I am wild about this boy!











Friday, January 25, 2013

I am strong

I'm having a really hard time.  I keep reliving my last moments in the hospital with Max.  My last moments with my son.  Kissing his little perfect face, tears streaming down my face, praying over his lifeless little body.  It will haunt me for all of the rest of my days.  FOREVER.  I miss him so much.  I miss his sweet smile, his long eyelashes, his big beautiful eyes.  I miss holding him.  I miss the way he smelled.  I wish I could breathe him in.  I cannot believe that this happened to him, to us.  I still cannot believe he is gone.  I still wish there was some way I could trade my life for his.

I got a phone call from the hepatologist the day after our appointment.  He dumped a whole load of new information on me that I am having a hard time absorbing.  It doesn't lead us any closer to any answers.  It doesn't help me to understand whether Mo will make it either.  It only serves to create that sick feeling in my stomach again, that awful flutter in my heart, that heavy, awful, oppressive feeling like I should have done something different that could have changed the outcome - that would have saved his life.  It also fills my calendar back up with more appointments with "specialists"...otherwise known as "people who don't care that my child died and are completely baffled by his death".

Lately I have been feeling really jealous.  REALLY jealous...of people who don't have dead children.  Of people who post photos of happy whole families on Facebook, and stress about the usual stressors in life (money, relationships, jobs).  I am jealous of people who get to kiss their kids (all of them) goodnight and good morning and all day long if they'd like to.  I just feel like it's SO unfair.  IT IS SO UNFAIR!!! I know it doesn't help me to think that way and so I try to push through.  Their lives are different than mine and that will just have to be ok eventually.  Will this ever feel ok?

I used to get so mad when people told me that I was strong.  They said it with such authority.  It felt like a politically correct way of telling me that they could never handle it, which I always read as a way of saying that that is why Maxie died and not their child (because I can handle it and they can't).  I can't handle it.  It is too big and too much and if I think about it too hard (which I could not stop myself from doing in the first year of my grief), it swallows me whole.  I can't handle it....but I am handling it.  Because I have no choice.  Sadly and fortunately, I've learned that I can do hard things.....like REALLY hard things.  I can do hard things that make all of the other stuff I ever thought was hard before this seem easy-breezy.  Hard things which sometimes get in the way of my feeling the empathy I once had for people who are experiencing the "normal" hard things.  It's not cool.  I want to feel more empathy.  I want to feel empathy rather than jealousy.

I keep remembering the things other bereaved parents have told me about finding their strength - because eventually you have to find your strength, you have no choice.  Finding your strength means digging deep.....SO deep and it is HARD to dig down that deep...I mean really, really hard.  There is nearly no room for those regular stressors.  Whenever you start to stress about those things, your own life kicks the perspective back into you and your reality check is your own damned self.  All of our strength is devoted to the hard task of living.  We are a strong bunch.... A REALLY STRONG BUNCH!  AND.........I AM A STRONG PERSON. A REALLY STRONG PERSON!!!!!

I didn't ask for this.  I would have never dreamed this would be my life.  But this is what I got and I am a thousand times stronger than I ever imagined possible.

.......even when I am breaking down, I am strong. 


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Prima

I am so lucky to have a Prima like Sharon.  I wrote her two weeks ago to say I missed her and hoped she would come visit.  One week later and she had already booked her ticket....to come that Saturday. This is her fifth or sixth visit since we lost Maxie...and she comes all the way from Mexico City.  I can't believe she still loves me and comes back even after four or five visits where I hardly got out of bed and all but ignored her.  She never came with expectations.  She never took my grief personally.  She listened when I needed her to, distracted me when I asked her to, and left me alone when it was clear I couldn't engage.  She is the one who first told me that I should let myself feel my pain...she continues to "give me permission" to grieve.  I am so lucky to have a cousin/friend like her....Maxie and Mo have been lucky to have her too!





Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Six Months Old

Today is Mo's six month birthday!!!!  I am so excited that we are halfway through this year!
Our Mo is super special!  We love him SOOOOOOO much!  He smiles all of the time, sucks his fingers, grabs and and tries to eat his toes, and babbles with purpose.  This week his first two teeth popped through on the bottom.  He is loving chewing on things - especially OUR fingers!  Oh my lord!!!!.....he is SO special.

Here's our six month recap!  Time is just flying by...



















Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Unprepared

Ted and I took Mo to the hepatologist yesterday.  We'd been waiting to meet with him again since our original appointment soon after Mo was born.  At the original appointment, he had offered to look at Max's liver slides to give us a better sense of whether something about Max's "fatty liver" had something do with his "incident" (death).  I am so naive - so stupid really.  I thought he was offering to do something for us - like in his spare time or something....but within a couple of weeks, I got a call from his administrative people telling me that they didn't think that our insurance would pay for the slide looking and that we should be prepared for a charge of several hundred dollars.  Not sure why, but it made me feel like a shmuck.  Of course he wasn't just "being nice".  For months, I've been getting calls from his office telling me that he is still waiting on the insurance and as soon as we knew who was paying, he'd look at the slides.  "WE ARE GETTING CLOSER TO NINE AND A HALF MONTHS!!!!  LOOK AT THE SLIDES FOR GODSSAKE!" is what I wanted to SCREAM!!

So, yesterday was the big day to find out what he knows.  The hepatologist only works one day a week so his schedule fills up months in advance.  Because of this, we had an appointment right smack in the middle of the afternoon.  We stopped our day to come meet with him - making it even that much more annoying when he showed up unprepared.  It's too bad too, because he was one of the only doctors who seemed to take us seriously early on.  He sat down with us and told us that he had had a chance to look at the slides and wanted our permission to talk to our geneticist about his findings (I don't really feel like getting into what he found - because it isn't anything new anyway).  NEED OUR PERMISSION?  TO TALK TO THE GENETICIST?  "Of course", we replied.  So, wait, he couldn't have gotten our permission over the phone and talked to the geneticist before we came to the appointment?  Ted even said to him, "I wish you would have gotten our permission before this appointment so that we could have an informed conversation about what you found today".  ????? DUH?!  Then he explained over and over why he thought it was important to talk to the geneticist:
"As a parent and a physician I just think it is important to get another opinion and I want to learn from him too".
Um, ok.  So call him.
"Not only as a physician, but also as a parent, I would like to speak to him and I am looking forward to learning from him.  We can all learn together."
Got it.  I don't care about "learning" anything other than WHY my child died and whether I need to worry about Mo and his future siblings.
Honestly, it was around this point that Ted and I realized that this appointment was bogus.  He just wasn't prepared.  We were there for no purpose at all....to give permission?  Something that could've happened over the phone.  Something we were OBVIOUSLY going to give.  He just needed something to talk about with us to try and create the illusion of a real appointment.
"Don't worry, we'll get through this", he said.
Get through what?  Honestly?  I asked him, "Get through what?  Are we going to learn what killed Max?"
"I really can't say", he said
So, what are we going to get through?  Because, honestly, WE aren't going to get through this.  It is going to be with us FOREVER.
GET THROUGH THIS!?  Sometimes I really hate people.
What a waste of time!  Seriously.  All it served to do was stir up old anxieties and fears.  And, that's where I am now - full of fear for my second little boy.  Sometimes it is all really just too much.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Inching along


I love him so much my heart is bursting out of my chest.  He is so cute.  He is so sweet.  When he smiles at me, I feel like the most important person in the whole world.  He is the center of my universe.  I love watching him get older and at the same time, as we inch closer to nine and a half months, I am constantly working on suppressing all of my fear and dread.  I know he will make it through.  I am almost positive he will be fine.  He HAS to be.  He is everything to me.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

My Medicated Self

Last March, Ted and I went to a support group for people who had lost infants.  It was a very challenging experience for both of us.  I think we felt so raw, so much still in shock, that we just couldn't handle the group setting.  Being in a room full of people in the same pain that we were in was just too overwhelming.  We could hardly stand the pain - it was in every corner of the room.  It was, quite literally, too much.

The woman who ran the group was not a bereaved parent.  I am actually not sure what her credentials were.  Maybe she was a social worker - I think she was - but I am really unsure.  What I do know is that she meant well.  I know she really did.  But, her blanket advice left me feeling very uncomfortable. The woman who was sitting next to me was in severe pain - suffering the loss of her baby and also suffering from the ensuing strain that the loss put on her marriage.  My heart was breaking for her.  Her perfect life had been shattered.

We went around the room and told the stories of our children's death.  I hate that part of groups.  Maxie was more to us than his death....but there isn't enough time for everyone to tell the stories of their children's life.  I HATE telling the story of Maxie's death.  I HATE IT!  When we got to the woman next to us, she told of her pain and said she had made an appointment to meet with a psychiatrist.  Our group leader warned her not to let the psychiatrist put her on anti-depressants.  I wasn't on anything at the time, but I really didn't understand so I asked her why.  She said that it was really important that we all feel the pain of our loss as fully as possible.  It is the only way to heal, she explained.

I believe that suppressing the pain is unhealthy.  Yet, I don't think anyone who hasn't experienced this can know just how suffocating this grief can be.  It can be DANGEROUSLY suffocating.  I do not exaggerate when I tell you that I didn't want to live.  I did not want to live.  I told Ted 20 times a day at least "I cannot live like this." and 20 times a day, he would tell me, "You have to".  It felt like what hell must feel like.  I was in hell....still am sometimes.

I really, really, really believe that it is time to get past the stigma of anti-depressants.  I started taking Zoloft after Mo was born and I feel better.  I mean, I really feel better.  And, you can give a lot of the credit to Mo but I can tell there is something else going on.  Complicated grief literally strips away all of your defenses - every dismissive comment is extra painful, every smile you see hurts, every reminder of your child being gone is enough to stop your heart from beating.  The medication has helped me to ignore the stuff that doesn't serve me....something that was impossible to do before I started taking it.  It literally constructed a wall around me so that when someone says something thoughtless or I see two year old children at the Farmer's Market, I can hurt without wanting to die.  I am still devastated, I am still sad beyond words, I am still in the depths of grief often - I still FEEL it....but it was my choice to give myself a break.  It was a choice that only I could make for myself.  Not everyone would make this choice but I am glad that I did.  I am SO glad that I did.

I would never tell another grieving parent that they should take anything.  It's not my place to say.  But, I would never tell someone who was in THIS MUCH PAIN that they should not.  Frankly, I think it is irresponsible to tell someone NOT to take a medication that could save their life.  I believe it is possible that taking Zoloft has saved my life.  It has.  And, no, this post is not sponsored by Pfizer.

Friday, January 18, 2013

First Solid Foods - Coming soon!


Mo is my reason for getting up in the morning.  His birth gave me the will to live again.  I do not say that lightly - I mean it with my whole heart.  Before he got here - every day was torture, every breath was labored and difficult, every waking moment was a countdown until the end - of the day and my time on earth really.  I couldn't wait to be done.

Now, I look forward to each morning, when I get to be with Mo again.  I miss him while he naps.  I miss him while we sleep.  For the last few nights, he has been waking up every two hours because he is teething.  And, you know what?  That is just fine.  I love seeing his little face in the middle of the night.  I love seeing that he is still here, breathing.  I love cuddling close with him and giving him comfort to get him through this uncomfortable period.

But, what kills me is that Ted hardly sees Mo at all.  Mo is asleep when Ted leaves for work in the morning and he is asleep when Ted gets home at night.  Ted works most Saturdays too.  So, he really only sees his baby on Sundays.  And, he waited just as long for Mo as I did.  He is suffering just as much as I am suffering.  He deserves the joy that I have now just as much as I do.  It just doesn't seem right.

Ted has been looking forward to Mo's first solid foods for months.  He keeps asking me, "When does he get to eat solids?"  Well, now that Mo has his first tooth and is turning six months old next week - it is time!  So, we are waiting for daddy's day off of work to give Mo his first spoonful of yams (Maxie's favorite food and also the food that our pediatrician recommended giving first).  We'll never forget Maxie's first time eating "solids" (aka - rice cereal).  We were smart enough to capture that moment.  We'll be sure to do the same with Mo next week.

I know that even though Ted gets very little time with his boy (VERY little time) - Mo has brought light back into his life as well.  Mo's a very special little boy around these parts.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Terrible

Sometimes (a lot of the time) I can't help but feel that it is my fault that Maxie died.  I worry (agonize) that a major decision I made for him - one that I spent hours and hours researching and looking into - ultimately led to his death.  Frankly - it makes me hate myself.  I feel like a terrible mother and a terrible person.  It's one of the many reasons that I can hardly stand being in my own skin anymore.  I feel completely unworthy of love, completely unworthy of life.  I didn't take Max's well being lightly.  I worried about him constantly - even though there was seemingly nothing to be worried about.  Maxie was a HEALTHY boy.  There was nothing wrong with him.  So, when I go to the pediatrician (like I did yesterday because Mo has what I thought was a little rash - but is just dry skin), and I hear that "he looks great" - it means nothing.  I know he looks great.  He is the picture of health and sweetness - just like Maxie was.  Too bad health is not a predictor for life or death.  They all seem to be totally unrelated.  Anyway, all this to say - I had the dream again last night.  The one where I am a terrible mother and I've left my baby somewhere but I am not sure where.  Then, when I finally find him, he is dead.  It would just be the most terrible nightmare ever - if it hadn't actually happened to my sweet baby in real life.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

THAT question

I needed some new nursing bras over the weekend because none of mine really fit (as the saleslady said, "You got a new baby and he came with a non surgical boob job!".)  So, we went to this fancy little baby boutique near my acupuncturist's office so I could get fitted for a couple of new ones.  Everything in there was SO cute!  Stuff I would have loved to shopped for with Max, that would have made me want to die before Mo's birth, and that now I just try to ignore mostly because I really don't need any of it and more often than not, it makes me sad and miss Maxie so much.

Still, we had a little fun in the store.  We tried on some sunglasses and I used their scale to weigh Mo: 18 pounds!!!


I tried on a bunch of bras and found two that I really liked and bought (having bras that fit is going to be a game changer for me...I just know it!)  The saleslady brought up her three children several times and I think she wondered why I wasn't biting.  I just didn't have it in me to ask all of the questions and smile and be curious.  I didn't want to give her the opportunity to ask me THE dreaded question either.  And, just when I thought I was in the clear, after I'd paid and we were turning around to leave, there it was, "Is he your only child?"  "Nope", I said.  "How many do you have?", she asked.  I paused and answered, "I've had two".  Then she gave me a knowing smile (though I am not sure if she actually knew or that is just her smile) and I left.  I HATE (hate, hate, hate) that I don't get to brag about my beautiful two year old boy!

Please click HERE to donate to help with the funeral costs for the sweet 3 month old baby I wrote about yesterday.  Please think about making even a small donation to help this family.  I am so grateful to those of you who already contacted me yesterday about it.

PS - I know my comments haven't been working for a while now.  I disabled Disqus until I can find another comment host.  In the meantime, I am hoping blogspots comment gadget will do.  Thanks for trying and telling me that you weren't having success!

Monday, January 14, 2013

The cost of death

Last night Ted and I were relaxing in front of the television when I got a text from my friend Lindsay.  She was texting to tell me that one of her friends had just lost a three month old.  The friend can't afford the funeral and Lindsay wanted to know if I knew of any resources to help pay for the costs of children's funerals. It felt like a hammer just cracked my heart.  I felt sick and devastated for this mother.  After she finds a way to pay for the funeral, then the REAL hell begins - the reality sinks in, the dismissive comments begin, she starts her new life without the child that she loves so deeply.  Losing a child is sheer hell....and on top of all of that burden, she has to figure out how to pay for the funeral.

I am not sure if I mentioned how lucky we were in this respect.  While the hospital bills kept rolling in, we didn't have to worry about the funeral cost...it was covered by the cemetery.  Mt. Sinai has a fund for the funerals of children.  They don't even ask if you can pay, they just cover it.  What a gift that is for parents when their lives are literally falling apart.  An amazing gift.  There were 400 people at Maxie's funeral and there was seating for everyone with chairs set up outside the chapel for the overflow.  They paid for the service, the tent by the gravesite, the casket and the burial and everything.  Planning my child's funeral is something that I wish I could put out of my head forever.  It was literally one of the most sickening experiences of my life.  I can only imagine how much worse it would have been if I was stressing about how to pay for it.

My friend Lindsay is working on fundraising for the funeral.  If you would like to make a donation, of whatever amount, please email me at teddyabby at gmail dot com, and I will let you know how that can be done as soon as I know more.  The emotional and financial devastation of losing a child is just overwhelming.  Let's give this family one less thing to worry about....because, honestly, the funeral is the last thing they should have to worry about I think.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Some of my favorite people

It took me a while to write today because I was having too much fun!  I never thought I would say such a thing ever again.  Mo and I were in Palm Springs with some of my favorite people celebrating the 40th birthdays of two of my favorite people - Jess and Eowyn.  The girls were so cool to let me come with Mo - it made my life so much easier - I'm just not ready to be without him.  He was SUCH a good boy too.  He loved all of the girlie attention - he cooed and smiled and rasberried.  We all ate a delicious dinner prepared by Kate, played cranium, gossiped in the jacuzzi.  Today we stopped at the outlet malls and then I took Robyn to the airport.  It's so awesome to be with close friends who know and love me and who I can be myself with.  It is so easy to be with people who I know and love as much.  Mo and I are so glad we went.  It was a GREAT time!  Happy Birthday to two of my very very very favorite people!  I love you girls!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

One day at a time

As soon as I found out I was pregnant with Mo, I began to panic about losing him.  I wasn't so worried about a miscarriage (especially since I'd just had one).  I was very worried about stillbirth and another "SIDS" loss though.  I was worried all day every day in fact.  People told me I could cause a miscarriage or stillbirth just by worrying so much (which didn't actually keep me from worrying - maybe just made me worry more in fact).  On one visit to Dr. D, I just looked at the ultrasound image and cried, "he looks like he is going to be so cute", I said.  I felt pretty sure my time with this baby would be limited.  "I'm not sure if I can go through this again", I told him.  Dr. D, an adoptive father, told me, only halfway joking, that he would be happy to take my baby, even if he only had a very short life.  "A baby is still wonderful Abby, no matter how long he lives".  It was literally THAT statement that turned my heart around.  Of course this baby would be a blessing - no matter what the future held.  I would never trade my nine and a half months with Max for anything.  His life and death have taught me more about love, honesty, parenting, human compassion, the importance of friendship and loyalty, the strength of the human spirit and the strength of my marriage than anything ever could.  I still worried every single day of my pregnancy, but I understood that the worry was worth it.  I wasn't going to give my baby to Dr. D! :) (in this case, I feel an emoticon is appropriate).

A great fear of mine was the anxiety of parenting another baby knowing what could happen, and I'm not going to lie, I still have moments where I am convinced he won't make it (because he is healthy - like Maxie was).  But, overall, I am surprised with how relaxed I feel about Mo.  I take him everywhere I go but that is part of why I feel so relaxed I think.  He is never really out of earshot and when he sleeps - I am usually watching.  He wears his snuza monitor and it gives me comfort that I don't need to check to see if he is breathing every five minutes (though I do check sometimes).  I am ready for the first year to be over, but I am taking it day by day.  I want to enjoy every minute that I have with him because he will never be a baby again and he is such a good baby.

When a perfectly healthy baby dies without warning - it is hard to imagine ever feeling secure again - and you know what?  You don't.  You understand that you don't have unlimited time on earth OR with the people you love.  You just don't.  It can all come crashing down at any minute and you will never understand that unless something like this happens to you I guess.  I never did.  But, no matter what - the time you do have is precious.  My nine and a half months with Max was a gift.  He was the most special soul - someone who enriched my life beyond my imagination and I was lucky - AM lucky to be his mother.  His brother is equally special - a master healer - an old soul.  I am focusing on one day at a time right now and somehow - that is working for me.

Friday, January 11, 2013

My crazy good deal

I am addicted to my baby monitor.  I was addicted to watching Maxie on it, and now I am addicted to watching Mo on it.  It comes to grandma's house, it comes on vacation - it gets turned on and watched throughout the night (even though Mo sleeps in the same room as us, at the foot of our bed) and it is used for every nap.  I am sure most parents with a monitor are also addicted in the same way I am.  

Anyway, I'd been thinking about getting a second one - which sounds almost crazy and probably not necessary but plugging and unplugging it in Mo's room is kind of a pain.  I wanted one that I could just keep in there as we transition him into his own room for naps.  So, a few weeks ago there was a CRAZY good deal on baby monitors on Groupon.  Not only was it majorly discounted but it has all sorts of cool features: an intercom so you can talk to baby, a nightlight, it plays lullibies, it monitors the temperature in baby's bedroom - so, cool right?  I was really excited for it to come and had been talking it up to our nanny.

Yesterday, it came!  And, it seems so far to be as cool as I thought it would be.  I don't even have to plug in the camera as it runs on batteries (my biggest complaint about the monitor I already have).  Anyway, I sat down on the couch with the user manual and a cup of coffee - excited to read it cover to cover and learn about how all of the features work (because I am a nerd - I LOVE baby gadgets..... I LOVE THEM).  I read the first two pages, flipped to the next page and found this:



HUH?  Like, I am totally confused.  I literally stared at it for about five minutes before I showed it to our nanny and then we both burst out laughing.  I don't know why - but we felt like we were being punked.  I even considered not showing it to her because I was embarrassed - why?  I don't know!

So far so good but I don't think a post-it would lie!  I am sure that the person who wrote this post-it was pretty pissed off at this monitor.  Must have been to send it back with this post it right?  Perhaps the manual is recycled and the monitor isn't?  I guess it could explain my crazy good deal.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hack Job

Mo has the cutest hairdo ever!  Seriously!  He has super stick straight hair and it sticks straight up.  I couldn't have styled it better if I tried.  It was starting to get kind of long around the ears though and I should've just let it be, but I couldn't leave well enough alone.  How hard could a little trim around the ears really be? 






Good thing his hair grows so quickly.  I learned my lesson - for now.  Next time, I'm bringing him to a professional.....or my mom.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Please

It knocks the wind out of me.

Sometimes I am just moving through my day and something will happen that will bring me back to the loss.  The early days of grief....it's just so hard.  I hate writing it because WRITING doesn't do justice to the agonizing pain in my heart.  Living without my child is a complete nightmare - all of the time.

I know you don't think this could ever happen to you.  I know you don't.  In fact, if you know me, you think that I effectively saved you from ever having to go through this because I am the statistic.  You've even told me this.  But, PLEASE, know that bad things do happen to good people.  I'm not sure why, but I still really think that Ted and I are good people.  I still really think that we are good parents.  I KNOW that Max was an angel - a perfect person.  There is NO reason that this should have happened.

Please put your baby to sleep safely.  You think he can't sleep on his back but he will, if you let him.  You think she can't sleep without the stuffed animals and loveys in her crib, but she can - I promise.  You think that you need to swaddle them forever, I had trouble moving Mo out of his swaddle too - but after a day or two - they figure it out.  Just please, read about how to safely put your baby to sleep.  It *may* save their life.  I NEVER want you to feel what I feel.  EVER.

Your baby's life is SO much more important that "sleeping through the night" or a "good nap".  I promise.

Nobody knows what causes SIDS.  NOBODY.  But if you might be able to reduce the chances - if it is even at all possible, why wouldn't you?.  *Might* isn't a guarantee.  If it were, Maxie *might* still be here.  I would give anything in the whole world to have Max back.  ANYTHING.  Learning to live with this pain has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do - and I HAVE had to do hard things in my life, I really have.

The sadness sometimes takes over for hours or days at a time.  Even when I am not completely beside myself in pain, I am completely preoccupied with Max not being here - with what should've been.  I don't wish it on my worst enemy.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Greg's Trip to Israel

My friend Greg went on his first trip to Israel at the end of the year and I really enjoyed living vicariously through him.  He sent me updates every few days about the adventures that he was having with his wife and her family.  It looked like they had an awesome trip.  I smiled as I read through his descriptions of wandering through the old city of Jerusalem, surfing in Tel Aviv, and floating in the Dead Sea.  

He sent photos too:  


                 

         

I have been to Israel many times.  I've been there as a teenager with a teen tour, as a tourist, I've led many trips there, I studied abroad there, I even lived there after college.  I also met Ted in Israel and we got engaged there.  I was supposed to go just a few weeks after Maxie's first birthday, for a week-long, cross-country bike ride in fact.  Now I'm just not sure when I'll go back - hopefully someday in the next few years to dedicate Maxie's Forest with our family.

I opened the last Israel email from Greg a couple of days ago.  There is a Jewish custom of putting a note in the cracks of the Western Wall in the old city of Jerusalem, as it is Judaism's most holy site.  The idea is that the prayer goes straight to god.  He sent me a photo of the note he put in the Wall for my boys and I couldn't hold back my tears.


It made my day.

Love you Greg!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sitting Pretty

Look what happened for the very first time while we were in CT!  We were so lucky that our friend Keelin was recording this milestone!





I am OBSESSED with this child!


Saturday, January 5, 2013

The same cloth

Every time I catch my Mo sleeping like this:


I remember and think of my sweet Max:




These boys are definitely cut from the same cloth

Friday, January 4, 2013

Yuck

We came home to the most horrific smell in our house on Tuesday evening.  Like, seriously, gag me!  It was hard to place until we got into our bedroom and then I knew EXACTLY what it was - a dead animal.  I know the smell well as my pet hamster got out of its cage when I was a kid, climbed into our heating duct and smelled up the house for what I remember being weeks (but was probably days).  OMG - so disgusting.  It is totally permeating the bedroom and master bathroom and is so super gross.  I called out a animal removal guy on Wednesday who went under the house three times, finally located the thing but couldn't get to it.  He said he'd have to tear out the floor in our newly remodeled bathroom to get to it.  He assured me that it wasn't harmful to our health and that it would dry up soon and go away.  It is STRESSING me out because we all sleep in our room and, as you can imagine, I worry about Mo - ALL. OF. THE. TIME.  Anyway, YUCK!  BIG TIME YUCK!  SUPER BIG UBER YUCK!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A strange phenomenon

I know other bereaved parents can relate to this strange phenomenon, because I have spoken with many of them about this.  The role reversal that happens when you lose someone, where you find yourself taking care of others.  It has been brought to my attention many, many (many, many) times that there are people who are afraid to talk to me.  They "don't know what to say".  And, I don't know...it makes me really, really sad to be honest.  Like the burden of losing my child wasn't enough....now I am also scary and unapproachable.  And, I've been told that a big reason that people are afraid to talk to me is because of my blog....though I know many bereaved parents who don't have blogs that have had the same experience.  And so I find myself trying to perform a happy song and dance to make people more comfortable like, "see, I am normal!  I am ok!  You can talk to me!".  Sometimes it works and I've managed to take care of the people around me by acting normal  Sometimes it doesn't work and no matter how big my smile is, I am still completely unapproachable.

I remember another SIDS mother telling me that she didn't like telling strangers about her daughter because often, she would end up trying to comfort the person she'd just told.  "It's ok.  We've had other children.  We are happy again".  And, of course that is incredibly simplistic and not really how it works.  But, we just want to say what people want to hear sometimes, to take care of them....to make sure that they are comfortable with our loss, even if we are not.

I guess that while writing here has been cathartic for me and I hope has helped some other grievers know that they are not alone, it has pushed away other people who "don't know what to say".  For the first year of my grief, I mostly stayed away from people because I knew they were afraid to talk to me.  I had worked really hard at Max's shiva every day to try and make the guests feel comfortable and it was exhausting and sadly, grief gets worse after the funeral, not better.  I just didn't have it in me to keep taking care of others.  Plus, I wanted to spare them from having to spend time with me and figure out what to say.  Now that I am in a new phase, one where I can compartmentalize well enough, where I can make small talk and laugh about silly things - there are still people talking about how afraid they are to talk to me.  I wish it weren't this way, but it is.  I wish lots of things weren't the way there are, but they are.  So, I guess I am scary.  So be it.  I'm doing my best.  This is me.  I am the woman who lost her baby.  There is nothing I can do to change it.  If that scares you, my apologies, but frankly, it is starting to sound like an excuse.  Truly.

And, I'm sure after reading this post, you will just feel more uncomfortable around me - not knowing what to say.  My guess is that you would feel that way whether or not I was writing this blog.  My guess is that you are just a person who doesn't know what to say in hard times.  And perhaps one day, you will find that it isn't so difficult, because it really shouldn't have to be.

This post is getting lengthy but I wanted to mention that there were people on our trip to CT who did know what to say.  Friends of Teddy's and Beth's who knew exactly what to say.  Who were kind and warm and funny and fun to be around and didn't act awkward or put off by us at all...and, I guess I just wanted to say how much I appreciated it.  I had been dreading New Years Eve for a long time, because I haven't "celebrated" anything in a year and a half.  Even Mo's bris felt somewhat melancholy.  But our hosts, Sam and Pete, were wonderful and generous and Beth's friends were warm and inclusive and funny and kind. Ted and I both had a really great time.  It really made me want to get back to celebrating life - because sometimes it can be so amazing.  Anyway, I just wanted to thank them - and Kristine and Michelle who thoroughly entertained me all night - and my oldest friend Sigalle, who totally abandoned her NYE plans to hang with us - and my friend Leslie and her husband Mitch, who drove in a snow storm to come visit us, meet Mo and bring us warm hand me downs from their son, who was born the day before Max - and Uncle Ritchie and Ellen, who we always love to see and spend time with.  And all of Ted's hilarious, awesome friends who we had so much fun with on Saturday night.  It was a really good time.  And, it should go without saying that we wish we had spent more time with Teddy's parents and we felt so terribly that they couldn't get close enough to hug and kiss Mo.  My mother in law said it was torture.

By the way, we flew home on the same flight as Mr. New Year's Eve himself - Carson Daly (who Ted had just been commenting on the day before, wondering if he was dressed like Dick Clark on purpose).  We always a appreciate a good celebrity sighting.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bad day

I'm having a BAD day. Really. Feeling so empty and alone and missing Max so deeply. The pain is just endless. Honestly. If I can just make it through today, hopefully tomorrow will be better. So, ten more hours or so of this hell before I can to close this day down. The countdown has begun.

Mo seems to be doing fine, by the way. Maybe his cheeks were just pink from the cold.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Back home

We're on our way home!  We're a tiny bit worried that we may have picked up a sick bug. Mo's cheeks are pretty pink.  My mind goes to scary places but I'm trying to keep it in check. It will be nice to sleep in our own bed tonight.